Title page for ETD etd-04302003-215238

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Taylor, Thomas Brandon
URN etd-04302003-215238
Title Arthropod assemblages on longleaf pines: a possible link between the red-cockaded woodpecker and groundcover vegetation
Degree Master of Science
Department Biology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Walters, Jeffery R. Committee Chair
Fraser, James D. Committee Member
Jones, Robert H. Committee Member
Salom, Scott M. Committee Member
  • arthropod
  • fire
  • groundcover
  • red-cockaded woodpecker
Date of Defense 2003-02-26
Availability unrestricted
Little is known about arthropod communities inhabiting longleaf pines in the southeastern United States. This information is of particular importance because arthropods serve as the food base for the federally endangered red-cockaded woodpecker (RCW). In a recent study, this arthropod community has been suggested to be the mechanism by which RCW reproductive success is linked to the groundcover composition of the forest (which is a reflection of the forest’s fire history). This is possible because it has been shown that much of the arthropod community found on longleaf pines originates from the forest floor. If the arthropod community is the link between the ground cover and the RCWs’ reproductive success then higher amounts of arthropods should be found in areas with groundcover that is indicative of frequent burning. I conducted a one year study at three sites containing RCWs to determine whether the ground cover of the forest influences the abundance and mass of the arthropod communities on longleaf pines. I focused on impacts of groundcover on arthropods by controlling for tree species, tree age, soil type, hardwood midstory density, and overstory basal area. My results show that arthropod biomass was positively and significantly correlated to the percent coverage of herbaceous and graminoid vegetation and was negatively and significantly correlated to the percent coverage of woody vegetation. Arthropod biomass and abundance was also observed to vary seasonally with a peak occurring during spring and summer. Additionally, prescribed fire was not found to have a negative short-term impact on arthropod biomass.
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